the eighth heaven
written by christophe conte, taken from les inrockuptibles

excerpts from the article *the eighth heaven*

on the note published in january 2000 by a magazine in england that his new album was going to be called "place de gaulle": "of course i know there is no place de gaulle in paris! in fact the work title i was using for the album was "place pigalle", where i lived for many months last year while i was in paris. i remember i spelled it to the journalist on the phone, but either he didn’t understand, or didn’t want to understand. i’m very sad that for the french public i came accross as a phony"

on naming the album figure 8: "it's because of skating; i am absolutely fascinated by the patience of these persons that after months of training are able to draw a perfect 8 with their skates - to see them applying themselves to such extent so that the outline is impeccable. we get the impression that nothing else matters for them, that they are caught in a sort of perpetual movement that nothing can disrupt. these people have in themselves a taste for something that can be classified as eternal, mystical, a kind of search for the absolute that i find very moving".

on fame: "when i see myself on the cover of a magazine i have the impression of being an usurper".

commenting his cover of "because" for american beauty: "the producers must have offered this cover to everyone, but i was the only one available".

on roman candle and es: "no one was supposed to listen to the first two albums, i made them for myself in total autarky".

answering the suggestion that perhaps in order to "preserve" his inspiration he shouldn’t put out a new album every six months as he says he would if he was allowed to: "if one day i can’t write anymore, this would mean that i have repeated myself too much and that i deserved this kind of punishment. for the time being i don’t think i have any problem, i write a lot more than appears on my records. i compose all year long, non-stop, and i gradually let go the songs that give me trouble. if a song refuses to be completed i never look for it, i move to another thing. before i would suffer over a verse for days; now i give up as soon as there is a problem, cause i know that in the end the song won’t flow naturally if it has gone through some intermediate stages that were too painful".

on the occasional use of hostile and discordant words on figure 8: "less than previously; i wanted the general tone to be more positive".

on moving to la "i didn’t have any particular attraction for los angeles, a priori it is the very same idea i have of the great american nightmare, but tom rothrock and rob schnapf who produced the album live there. the place i am doesn’t matter much, i move very easily and i don’t have ties anywhere. i left new york cause i was touring most of the time and it’s a bit stupid to keep an apartment in such an expensive city when you are never there. in la i don’t have a lot of contact with the local scene. even if we have the same musical roots, pop inspired by the beatles specifically, i don’t recognise myself in those bands. i find them to be backward-looking, caricatural, and besides i’ve never really liked californian music. i hope that my records are not like theirs".

after the concert in portland (02.29.00), attended by steve malkamus from pavement and many of his friends "i think my friends are very proud of what is happening to me. some of them are concerned, they assume i am not solid enough to take the blows and they anticipate that i will get lost in the turmoil of the business. people think that because my songs have a fragile quality i am myself someone fragile. this is totally false, i am way more robust and resistant than my songs. possibly so far i’ve been misunderstood by people who think that all the sad things i’ve written are autobiographical. I noticed that sometimes they felt sorry for me because of my lyrics, and this ended up disturbing me. i hate self-pity, and i don’t like people who play with that, it is often dishonest. in the new album the lyrics are more imprecise, they come in general from dreams i had, so there’s no use in trying to associate them with real things"

after the mention that his records should always be considered - and included - in "desert island" list updates: "all i can say is that i wouldn’t take my own records to a desert island". regarding the records he would take: things like the white album, magical mystery tour, and there’s a surprising newcomer in his list "i have discovered not long ago this nico record, the marble index, and i felt madly in love with it. for weeks i couldn’t listen to anything else, this record has literally spellbound me, and this hadn’t happened in many years. i still don’t know what it has taught me that i could use for my own songs in the future, but i know its influence will be enormous. at present my songs are like coloured landscapes, and in comparison the songs by nico are monochromatic deserts. if i was using various colours up to now it’s because i felt more secure having many hues available. perhaps if i want to avoid repeating myself, going around and coming back to the same place, i should be interested in using only certain colours, like nico. but i don’t know if i am ready to cross such a border."

thanks to lena